5 Myths of Traffic Generation That Seriously Need to Die

5 Myths of Traffic Generation That Seriously Need to Die

Can I be straight up with you?

95% of the advice on the web about how to increase your website traffic is totally useless.

It’s outdated, overly simplified, or just plain wrong. Here’s how I know:

Over the last eight years, the sites I’ve built have received over 200 million page views. I’ve also worked with thousands of students in every imaginable niche, and I’ve seen firsthand what works and what doesn’t.

And lots of the advice out there… it just doesn’t work.

In particular, five myths really bother me. If you’re struggling to increase your traffic, chances are it’s because you’ve bought into one of these myths.

Let’s jump in…

Myth #1: Blogging Is a Great Way to Get Free Traffic

You’d think I would agree with this one. I’m the “blogging guy,” after all, so you’d think I’d be the first person to jump on the free traffic bandwagon.

But here’s the thing:

Free traffic is a fairytale.

Yes, you can get traffic without paying money, but that doesn’t mean it’s free. You always — and I mean ALWAYS — have to trade something for it.

In the case of blogging, it’s time.

You invest your time into writing blog posts, and if you do it properly, you will get traffic in exchange. All other things being equal, the amount of traffic you receive is also directly proportional to the time you invest.

But the idea of your blog getting a whole bunch of traffic without investing a whole bunch of time?

It’s unrealistic. You get out what you put in. Simple as that.

Myth #2: You Need To Optimize Your Site for Search Engines

Let me be clear…

I’ve received more traffic from search engines than any other source. Millions and millions of visitors.

But is SEO a smart traffic strategy for everyone?

No.

Sometimes, you’re better off spending money on advertising. Other times, social media is your best bet.

How do you know?

Well, you have to consider the situation. It depends on how much content you have, the age of your site, the amount of search engine traffic available, the sophistication of the competition, your personality, the way you want to spend your time, your budget, and dozens of other factors.

The problem is, no one tells you this. They imply that optimizing your site for search engines is always a smart move.

And that’s just nonsense.

No traffic strategy is right for everyone all the time. You have to consider the situation you are in at the moment and compare the pros and cons of each strategy.

Anybody who tells you otherwise is either stupid or dishonest.

Myth #3: You need to be on Facebook, Twitter, etc.

In some ways, this myth is a repeat of the last one, but it’s so prevalent I figured it deserves its own section.

Everybody wants to get more traffic from social media. The problem is, there are a gazillion different platforms. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat — the list is already long as hell, and it’s getting longer all the time.

So, what do most people do?

A little bit of everything. They divide their time between a bunch of different platforms, and they never get anywhere.

It’s a mistake. Instead of dividing your time between a bunch of different strategies, hoping one of them will work, you need to find the one strategy that seems to be the best choice for your particular situation and then go all in.

And here’s what will really make your head explode:

Sometimes, social media isn’t the answer. Sometimes, you should ignore all of it. Facebook, Twitter, everything.

Why?

So you can focus. When you’re a beginner, focus is everything.

Either focus on one platform, or eliminate social media from your strategy entirely, but don’t spread yourself between all the different platforms. That’s a guaranteed way to fail.

Myth #4: There Are Hundreds of Ways to Get Traffic

Speaking of spreading yourself thin, social media is only part of the problem. Dig around, and you’ll find there are hundreds of ways to get traffic.

Which one is best for you? How do you choose?

If you’re not careful, you’ll come down with a nasty case of analysis paralysis. There are just too many options.

But here’s a little secret:

While there are hundreds of different ways to get traffic, there are only five sources of traffic worth talking about:

  1. Search engines
  2. Social channels (Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
  3. Social bookmarking (Pinterest, Reddit, etc.)
  4. Links/referral traffic
  5. Ads

In the last decade, the individual tactics and techniques within those categories have changed, but none of the categories have. It’s been remarkably stable.

The trick is choosing the right one for you, which brings us to…

Myth #5: One Traffic Source Is Inherently Better Than Another

People argue all the time about the “best” way to get traffic, but here’s the thing:

With traffic, everything is contextual.

In the blogging market, for example, search engine traffic is dominant. It dwarfs all the other traffic sources.

In the self-improvement market, on the other hand, Facebook is king. Not even the almighty Google comes close.

In other words, the “best” traffic source very much depends on your market. It also depends on another surprising factor:

You.

Working one-on-one with thousands of bloggers, I’ve learned that all of us have different strengths and weaknesses. Typically, you will have a natural affinity for only one of the traffic sources, and the others will be difficult or repulsive to you.

Interestingly, it’s also pretty predictable.

Do you love data, spreadsheets, and analysis? Well then, you should look into advertising.

Or are you more of a people person with a strong personality? In that case, your best bet is a social channel where you can interact with your fans.

In the next few weeks, I’ll be talking a lot about this, as well as giving you guidance on how to pick the right strategy for you. For now, here’s what you need to know…

This Is Complicated Shit

And it sucks.

You’re probably like, “Jon, can’t you just give me a step-by-step plan I can follow? Something simple and to the point?”

The honest answer:

No. Not if you want to get the traffic yourself, anyway.

If you’re running a business, and you have some cash to invest, the simplest way to go is to hire an agency with a proven track record. They can deal with all this crap for you.

But if you’re all on your own, bootstrapping your way to success?

The most important thing you can do is embrace the complexity. Realize you have a lot to learn and dedicate yourself to learning it.

The good news is I can give you a roadmap. It’s full of tough decisions, twists and turns, detours and roadblocks, but at least it’ll get you pointed in the right direction.

Next week, I’ll start a little email series for our subscribers on the topic. Subscribe to our list, if you’re not already.

Until then?

Decide what you’re willing to trade for traffic.

Are you willing to trade time? Or are you willing to trade money?

It’s the first step. That one simple choice.

Leave me a comment with your decision. I’ll be watching.

About the Author: Jon Morrow has asked repeatedly to be called “His Royal Awesomeness,” but no one listens to him. So, he settles for CEO of Smart Blogger. Poor man. 😉

124 Comments

  1. Sonia Thompson
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 10:35:55

    Complicated is definitely the word for it! And I’m so glad you pointed out how our personalities play a big role in what makes the most sense for us.

    I started ignoring social and it feels great to not fiddle with it, and to focus on the strategy I declared for myself. 🙂

    Looking forward to digging deeper with you guys and learning more about the science behind getting the keys to the traffic kingdom.

  2. Toyin Ogunseinde
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 10:38:40

    Hello Jon,
    This is a nice article. Well written. My name is Toyin from Nigeria. I read your posts everytime. Is SEO good for an entertainnent blog? I dont know if i should invest in SEO or Facebook and Instagram. Thanks

    • Clover
      Jun 09, 2016 @ 11:01:19

      Great question Toyin Ogunseinde about entertainment blog strategy. I am a wedding singer-entertainer-celebrant ( 9 year old website) and have been busy blogging and sharing on social sites. However, my traffic score is nothing to write home about. I really hope Jon can help us! Have a great day!

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:05:53

      No, SEO isn’t the right way to go for an entertainment blog. Facebook and Twitter are probably your best bets. Maybe social bookmarking sites like reddit as well.

      • DNN
        Jun 13, 2016 @ 23:44:48

        Jon,

        Do you still find any kind of success or traffic increase using ReddIt?

      • Jon Morrow
        Jun 19, 2016 @ 23:16:31

        Not at the moment, but I’ve had plenty of success with it in the past. I know lots of people are still successful using it. Like anything though, it depends on the niche and your personality.

  3. Jon Espina - JONtotheworld
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 10:41:18

    I agree about the social media.When I started my blog like a year ago, I was so engrossed with facebook, twitter etc then a realization hit me that social media is nothing, ineffextive when you’re just starting.

    Still the best way to go is to focus on the most important part, content. Creating really good content and find ways to promote it. And just like what you said having built a good relationship with influencers is one of the best tactics.

    But at the end of the day, you’re right Jon that blogging is about hardwork and there is no definite roadmap to be a successful blogger. You really have to do the hardwork and have enough experiences and failures before you would know what works for you.

    Thanks for this informative post Jon. Got to share this one. Tweet tweet!😊

  4. Alex Moscow
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 10:41:45

    Great post thank you Jon. I love these myth buster articles. They are so powerful at helping to change unhelpful behaviours. Nothing worse than staring the truth in the face.

    I noticed that you didn’t include traditional media sites under the five sources worth talking about. Is that because they fit into one of the sources you mention, because you don’t feel they are a good source of traffic or something else?

    I suppose the question I’m really asking is, do you feel it’s worth contributing to media outlets as part of a traffic strategy. As a PR guy, I gots to know :).

  5. David
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 10:44:45

    Good stuff!

  6. Cheryl
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 10:59:33

    You hit the nail on the head. Hundreds of ways to get traffic, but only 5 real categories. The real trick is finding the right mix to get your message in front of your audience. And if you don’t know your audience….well that’s a different story!

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:06:25

      Yes, knowing your audience is absolutely essential.

  7. Mike Pilcher
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 11:07:07

    Great post! So much value…love it!

  8. Clement
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 11:08:57

    Hi Jon

    Great point about the best traffic channel being dependent on your market, and also on you.

    I also agree with you regarding focussing on one platform with social media.

    Lately, I’ve been getting good results with Twitter. Initially I sucked. But I started to see improvements after investing time in learning the platform and building my following. I’m not so active on other platforms, in fact I’m not even on facebook at the moment.

    Clement

  9. Stephen Weyman
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 11:09:06

    It’s very chaotic isn’t it Jon. I’ve been fiddling with social media for years and tried all kinds of different things other than just 100% committing to it full force. Of course, I’ve had very limited success because it just isn’t the right fit for me.

    I’ve gotten to the point now where I’m a little bit glad I have social on my side as I’m starting to get slightly more traffic from it with minimal work now that I at least have a refined system in place for dealing with it.

    I’m never going to hit it out of the park on social if I don’t go all in – but I’m not willing to commit to social in that way because I’ve determined it just isn’t as valuable as other activities even when you’re pretty good at it. Some may disagree, but I think there are generally much better uses of time. In the end, it’s nice to have a little social proof though…

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:07:43

      It really depends on your personality and your market. For some people, social media is great. For others, it’s terrible. I’ll have some more info for you next week.

  10. Elvis Michael
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 11:12:48

    Myth #3 is so true. In fact, I have been doing just that, but i’ve been seriously considering the use of just ONE social network — with two at most.

    It’s funny how we use every little thing out there “just because it’s available” or just because “everyone else is doing it.”

    As my website caters primarily to other business-minded and money-minded people, for example, chances are ill put much more effort into Linkedin than anything else.

    Thanks for the awesome post, Jon.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:10:09

      LinkedIn might work, but for that audience, I don’t really think social media is a great fit, unless you just have the perfect personality for it. Search engines or advertising are probably the way to go.

    • Tam Francis
      Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:13:53

      The other caveat to that is if you pick one or two FB is a necessity if you plan on doing any FB adverts.

      Google plus will increase your rankings and visibility in Google (especially if you post articles with pictures, links and or hashtags), but has such a small pool of active users its worthless for direct big drives to your blog.

      Have you used any analytics to SEE where your traffic is coming from? It may not be coming from Linkedin???

      I will admit, I’m no expert, and haven’t hit it big, yet, but am beginning to understand the power of analytics to choose the correct path.

      Best of luck!

  11. Danielle Bernock
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 11:20:35

    Thank you. Validating information!!!! I am green and this stuff is indeed complicated. So much to learn – yes! And – I don’t have to have a Facebook page for my book and my blog – thank you for that! I have a website for my book that came with my domain email. I have a wordpress blog (in process of moving it to a self hosted website) I use mostly twitter and Instagram. I have a presence on other platforms but not pushing those. Thank you for your help!

  12. Alex Gunderman
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 11:24:46

    It’s easy to share a post to your social media sites for some extra hits. I only have Facebook, Twitter and Google+, although I’m hardly active on each, but it doesn’t make them useless.

    With that being said, I do agree that you should focus on one medium for traffic. My strategy relies on SEO because I understand it best.

    But not a single traffic strategy will be effective if your content sucks. That is still the single most important factor in my opinion.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:11:05

      Yes, great content is a prerequisite for any strategy.

  13. Berni
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 11:26:11

    Thanks so much, Jon! This is really helpful. I started my blog in March and since lost myself in social media, SEO and forum participation (to be honest I hate it, but I thought it was necessary). And I wasted all this time I could have spend writing and guestblogging (I did the course, it was awesome, thanks!). I guess this ties in a bit with Glen’s post the other week about uncertainty and procrastination…I will focus now and am tremendously looking forward to the email series! Best wishes, Berni

  14. Syed
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 11:26:13

    Great reminder about focusing on one social network. I’ve found Twitter works well for me but I still plug away and try to do the “minimum” on other platforms. Maybe it’s time just to nix the other stuff and focus on what works.

  15. Saheed Oladele
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 11:35:21

    Nice heads-up for beginners like me. Thanks

  16. Esther
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:02:08

    So I am finally not dumb. Been terribly struggling with blog traffic. Everything except paid adverts is proving so futile. I want to revive my Facebook sponsored posts again. I think I am going to trade money with traffic. Spoke to a few sponsors and all. It’s my fourth year already and that means something has to change. Something!

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 09, 2016 @ 19:26:00

      We’ll help you get it sorted out, Esther. 🙂

  17. Tam Francis
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:06:15

    Some interesting and mostly sound advice, but I want to add to these myths with my own spin:

    “Myth #1: Blogging Is a Great Way to Get Free Traffic”
    It’s not so much as a MYTH as it is a “so what.” I’ve managed to attract readership through blogging, but here’s the big secret it DOESN’T mean anything if you’re NOT converting them to your MAILING LIST. What good does it do if I have 600 views a day if not a single one of them comes back b/c I haven’t convinced them to join my list or at the VERY LEAST follow my blog.

    “Myth #2: You Need To Optimize Your Site for Search Engines”
    Again, same thing here. YES, optimization works. I’ve seen my viewership grow as I’ve learned how to tweak SEO. With Yoast analytics, I can see the incoming traffic, and I will attest, that most of it is not from ads, guest blogging, tweets or FB, its from my kick-ass SEO on each of my blog posts.
    But again, it means nada if I’m not converting those unique views into loyal subscribers!

    “Myth #3: You need to be on Facebook, Twitter, etc.”
    I will say, after many webinars and speaking to those who have successfully managed the FB targeted ad, you MOST certainly NEED to be on FB, if for no other reason than to have a page to link your ad to (you cannot advertise on FB without a page to link to).
    And FB currently has the best return (once you figure out your target and use it wisely for list building), than anywhere else.
    If you do no other social media, do AT LEAST this one.

    I hope my tips were an add on for the already wonderful advice found here.
    Happy Writing, Marketing, and Selling!
    ~ Tam Francis ~

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:14:54

      Subscribers are indeed important. It’s one of the principles we preach here a lot at Smart Blogger.

      But be careful with generalizing when it comes to traffic.

      If something works for you, that’s great. It doesn’t mean it will work for everyone else, though.

  18. Ahmad Imran
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:14:07

    Hey Jon, if there is one person in blogging whose “most of the points” touch the heart, that is you. I am not flattering, simple honest opinion. Couldn’t resist to hide it.

    Point no. 3 is so valid and so wide-spread. I have been myself a victim of it but now going to change the things. 6 platforms on social media, all thin-spread, not much getting out of them. At the cost of my other big items such as “email marketing” and “bloggers outreach”, so when you get your priorities wrong, you suffer.

    If there are any new bloggers reading this message, be warned, Social Media is good but it can be distracting and sidetracking your vision and focus, watch out.

    Great article Jon, sharing with my little audience. Cheers

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 09, 2016 @ 19:57:31

      Thanks Ahmad. 🙂

  19. John McDougall
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:14:48

    Love the part about the 5 key traffic sources that have been the same for along ways. Also love the part about avoiding a one size fits all mentality and on learning to focus. Nice honest post that challenges much of the standard fluff. SEO in particular used to be so much easier and doing it lightly usually made a huge difference but now you need to think before you blindly leap into a fantasy world.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 09, 2016 @ 19:58:47

      Yep, SEO Is definitely harder. It’s a lot more defensible for the same reason, though. Once you have a good ranking, you can typically maintain it.

  20. Ed from My Dapper Self
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:28:01

    Great post, Jon. Many of these things have been said before in one way or another, but this is a great little list to keep me focused.

    One question I hope you would answer: What do you do when you made the error of being all over social media, gaining a few thousand followers on each platform and then realizing you’re spreading yourself too thin among all these platforms? It’s hard to let go and *kill* one of those profiles when you have people following you there.

    Not sure what my next step should be in such circumstances.

    Thanks – keep it up!

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:30:37

      It depends.

      The first question is whether you should even be using social media at all. In other words, should you be on ANY platform, or are all of them a ssubstandard use of your time?

      If you should indeed be on one of them, you then just have to be pretty hard-nosed about it. Announce you are focusing on one platform and let everything else stagnate.

      • Danielle Bernock
        Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:55:01

        Thank you for that reply – I had his same question.

  21. Ken
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:31:00

    My biggest concern is writing a decent blog, but worry that people visit, read, and say, “Thanks for the free content, BYE!”. In other words, I’m putting time into providing free advice/content, but many more visitors are readers who aren’t converting into clients, even if there is a “call to action” at the bottom of each blog to call/email for an appointment (I’m a therapist). I’m not sure how to convert blog readers into customers.

    • Jonathan
      Jun 10, 2016 @ 17:27:57

      Offer them something free Ken and get them on an email list. That way you’ve got them forever. That’s at least 50% of the reason for my own blogging. The other 50% is trust building.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 11, 2016 @ 18:03:02

      Yes, the answer is getting them to subscribe to your email list. It’s absolutely essential for converting visitors into clients.

      Take a look at this:

      https://smartblogger.com/opt-in/

  22. Terri Cruce
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:38:40

    This post actually makes me feel better about how I’m going about things. I am, to put it bluntly, sick to death of social media. It’s a time suck of the highest order and I’ve fought with myself over whether it’s a good time investment for me. This makes me feel better about stepping away. I’m just beginning to try and get out there. I have clients so maybe that means someone’s finding me, somehow. 🙂 But I would rather spend time over money, at this stage. At least until I have a firmer grasp on what may work better.

  23. Deepak Rana
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:41:35

    Hi Jon.
    Just read the article & I’m really amazed because you mentioned the myths that are very realistic in the market & over hyped.
    Yeah, I certainly agree that we can’t focus on all the social media platforms at omce & at the same time the social media is not for everyone.
    Great points, overall! Things work differently for every individual. However, we should listen everyone but always go along with our own conclusions. Other than that, keep the great work up!

  24. Jeannette Paladino
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:43:41

    Jon — you’re always ahead of the curve in understanding how to build a business. I came to the conclusion a long time ago that social media isn’t the silver bullet. And just getting traffic to your site isn’t always the answer either. Unless your Jon Morrow, the vast majority of your visitors will bounce off and never return. They will never become customers. The old-fashioned tactics of networking, advertising and doing PR for yourself still work. Social media is simply another channel. Personally, I use my blog to establish my authority in my field and as an archive of my writing. That’s the most important reason I continue to blog.

  25. Felicia Ruiz
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:49:35

    It’s indeed complex. Not knowing which way to go, I’ve used both Facebook and Twitter. Interestingly, when I ran ads on both, I had a much greater response from Facebook than Twitter even though I have more followers on Twitter. Perhaps it’s the way the they do ads, but I sensed my true audience was more on Facebook than Twitter. Personally, I like Twitter better; my mom isn’t there.

    • Eben
      Jun 09, 2016 @ 16:25:16

      Lol. Do you write about things mom should not hear?

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 11, 2016 @ 18:05:45

      At this point, Facebook is a more mature advertising platform. Most people get better results there. Could change any time, though.

  26. Daniel
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 12:55:25

    Yeah, that makes sense to me. I’ve done really well with SEO over the years, social not so much, but I have an educational blog that people find while they’re doing their homework (not while they’re browsing on facebook).

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 11, 2016 @ 18:06:58

      Yep, SEO is probably your best bet for an educational blog.

  27. Mark C. Titi
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 14:05:33

    Thanks for more savvy advice Jon! I especially liked the emphasis on focus. Diluting one’s efforts can be a dangerous proposition. How much more time do any of us have on this earth and how much money do we really need? The potential return on investment of time or money is much more appealing when we stay sharply focused on our personal mission. Any traffic we get allows us the opportunity to share our message with the world. Thanks again for the reminder to keep our eye on the real prize!

  28. Tammy D
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 14:12:17

    Great article. I look forward to the emails regarding the strategies. I am in the process of launching an online magazine and trying to figure out what the best way to drive traffic is for us.

  29. Saurabh Srivastava
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 14:38:38

    Hi Jon,
    This post is a great revision of your most famous advises. I have read those articles so many times that I can even recall the paragraph number or the sub heading of their first occurrence. You have brought big changes in me – both in my blogging and my personality. It is first time though that I am making an effort to express.

    Thank you for all the great work that you have been doing.

    Eagerly waiting for the email series.

  30. Hettie
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 15:55:12

    Dear His Royal Awesomeness
    Thanks for putting me in the picture about the myths as it is surely connfusing! I’m looking forward to your series of posts.

  31. Mary Ann Rollano
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 15:55:39

    Jon,

    I’ve been reading your advise for some time now and being new to all of this, I find your expertise invaluable. I am in the food/beverage/wellness niche and know that Pinterest is where I should be but have not mastered it at all. Facebook is also good for my niche but the algorithms are designed to only show my posts to a very small percentage of my followers. I find that frustrating and I think it’s their way of pushing you into buying advertisement. I look forward to reading your e-mail series and insight on this. Thanks again.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 11, 2016 @ 18:08:31

      Yep, definitely give Pinterest a shot in that niche. 🙂

  32. jennifer harry
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 16:00:48

    Jon, another great post. I cannot wait to read your roadmap.

    It’s funny how other bloggers out there are peddling the wrong information time after time.

    It is frustrating that I have invested too much time following the wrong advice, writing crappy posts and getting nowhere. It has taken some reading, but I’m so glad that I stumbled upon your blog. Better late than never.

  33. Sherman Smith
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 16:51:15

    Hey Jon,

    I’ve come to realize that social media really isn’t my thing. But if I was to choose one, then twitter would be my first choice.

    But I understand where you’re coming from with this. Our personality plays a big role in picking a strategy to generate traffic. I would have to say blogging communities work best for me as well as paid advertising.

    Sometimes what may seem like the best advice coming from a guru may not be the best for you.

    Great post Jon!

  34. Christy Kelly
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 17:57:16

    Jon, you’ve done it again. This time you’ve confirmed what I suspected for a long time, that social media isn’t the end-all be-all. Nothing is. I tend to gravitate toward Facebook and Twitter for my blog and want to develop a real audience who see me as a leader and refer others to my blog. My true love is writing, and it’s difficult when you realize no one is reading it unless it’s in front of their face. Awaiting the series with bated breath!

  35. Gemma @MayInspire
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 19:47:11

    Thanks. Facebook is definitely the platform I find the hardest to grow on but am worried, as a blogger, to walk away from social media platforms. I get the logic but I haven’t got the guts to give up on a source of communication. I’m currently giving my time aka my life to this, wish me luck haha Mayinspire.co.uk

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 11, 2016 @ 18:09:44

      Hopefully the series of emails will help you next week, Gemma. Best of luck!

  36. Henry
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 19:59:21

    Wow,

    thanks alot Jon for pointing this out for me. I have always tried to spread out my tentacles around all the available of social media networks, trying to get traffic from all of them at ones, instead of rationalizing my time and facing only one that will yield results. I end up wasting my time, with failure stamped everywhere on my traffic stats. Really thanks alot.

  37. Kaleb Stegall
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 22:41:35

    Hey Jon great post on the blog traffic myths, however I noticed something that I don’t think you addressed specifically and neither has anyone else in the comments section which is the use of YouTube. Yes, it could be categorized under “social media” but by and large video content almost has its own arena and criteria due to how video media has been blowing up in the last few years (people having over 2 million regular subscribers and a million views daily to YouTube Red circling around exclusive video). I wanted to know your thoughts on this. Can YouTube be a strong alternative that could compete and outperform written content with the end goal of generating traffic and creating a profitable website/Vlog?

    • Ken
      Jun 10, 2016 @ 12:54:21

      Yes, I would be interested, too. I have competitors who use YouTube for marketing but they are younger and better looking than I am. Will YouTube marketing work if you’re not young and pretty/handsome?

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 11, 2016 @ 18:01:08

      YouTube is definitely a viable platform, and yes, it can generate significant traffic, but it’s completely different from blogging. You can’t really compare the two. For instance, asking if one can outperform the other is like asking if football can outperform basketball. It’s two different sports. Same thing with blogging versus YouTube. Two different channels, and they require completely different skill sets, strategies, and expertise.

  38. Tim Mann
    Jun 09, 2016 @ 23:15:29

    Aloha Your Awesomeness

    I had a cowboy friend who once said (when I was undergoing a particularly painful and extended divorce): “If it doesn’t work, stop doing it”. So I stopped. It worked.

    Since then, I’ve gotten remarried to my best friend, and have had the best marriage in the world for the last 15 years. We have a saying in our family: “be hard to kill”. Because if you’re not dead, anything else is possible.

    And we’ve never failed at anything that we never gave up on.

    Aloha and Love from Hawaii, Tim………

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 11, 2016 @ 18:11:12

      Yep, a lot of old wisdom like that is amazingly effective. Aloha. 🙂

  39. Hassaan Khan
    Jun 10, 2016 @ 01:40:55

    Hi, Jon!
    The vibe I’m getting here is every strategy doesn’t work for everyone. I totally agree with you. I’m a believer that ‘social media platform selection’ does play a role in our online business success. I have always advised readers and clients to pick their (social) platform.

    It might be unfair not to add here that while choosing a social media platform, one has to see a number of things, such as audience nature, business type, consumer psychology etc.

    For instance, an online fruit retailer might be better off using Instagram/Pinterest + Facebook, whereas, a content marketing agency must have an existence on Facebook and LinkedIn.

  40. Radley
    Jun 10, 2016 @ 03:44:06

    Hi Jon
    Great and informative article – thank you.
    Re: With traffic, everything is contextual.
    What would you say is the channel most likely to succeed for a dog training blog and website I am starting. I also enjoy the analysis side of Marketing.
    Thanks
    Radley

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 11, 2016 @ 18:12:06

      SEO for sure. Ads could also work. Maybe Facebook.

  41. James P
    Jun 10, 2016 @ 06:04:21

    Hey Jon,
    Thanks for writing a post about traffic generation myths.
    I have come to realize that no two traffic sources are similar and it all depends on the type of content you publish on your site. If you are into fashion/food/home improvement niche, then Pinterest would be a great source of traffic and when you write about Technology, then search engines are the best.
    Similarly, the sources vary for different niches and you have to research to find out the best traffic source for your blog.

    What do you say?

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 11, 2016 @ 18:13:22

      Yep, you’ve got it. The only thing I would add is it also depends on your personality. I’ll be talking about that more next week.

  42. Felipe Adan Lerma
    Jun 10, 2016 @ 10:21:04

    It’s nice to not be guilty I felt I had to choose one social media outlet to focus my time with.

    I chose Twitter, probably for many of the same reasons I like writing shorter fiction and taking pictures, quicker and allows me lots of opp for fine tuning after.

    With Twitter going (hopefully) toward allowing images w/out counting against the 140 character limit, I lucked out (smiles).

    Nice article, nice comment thread, thanks! 🙂

  43. Kris
    Jun 10, 2016 @ 15:40:24

    Yes, for someone new to blogging this is complicated shit. Every guru has “the” answer, yet you add them all up and your head will explode with choices. The challenge is figuring out what 2-3 things I should do to build up my blog blog – doing this part-time makes it even more challenging to test and find out what works for me. Guess I should stop reading and start spending my time doing…

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 11, 2016 @ 18:14:26

      The email series I’m starting next week should help you, Kris.

  44. uthman saheed
    Jun 10, 2016 @ 17:57:38

    Thanks for sharing this. As a new blogger trying to participate and promote your content through all social media could be time consuming and most time does’nt even work out. I have tried it before and got frustrated without result…Now am on facebook alone and using that effectively.

  45. Joseph Dabon
    Jun 10, 2016 @ 21:52:46

    In the pit of my stomach, I think we need to work on something that works best for us. A shotgun approach is a waste of time with questionable results.

    But, first and foremost, is that elusive creature in the huge forest of blogs remains enigmatic – that epic content that makes readers drool for more, and want to share without being asked. God, I would give an arm and a leg to capture that creature.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 11, 2016 @ 18:15:19

      Yes, great content is definitely a prerequisite. I’ll talk more about that in the future as well.

  46. Chloe Cumbow
    Jun 10, 2016 @ 23:52:17

    Since I don’t have any money, will have to make the time to invest.

  47. Ankit
    Jun 11, 2016 @ 00:44:39

    I don’t think it is “investing time” vs “inversting money.”

    I think it is “investing time” vs “investing money to invest time elsewhere”.

    Ultimately, the learning has to happen.

    Thoughts?

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 11, 2016 @ 18:17:36

      I don’t think you always have to learn. Sometimes, the quickest and most efficient approach is paying an expert to do it for you.

      Unfortunately, that’s often expensive, and most beginners can’t afford it. So yes, you end up having to learn in that case.

      • Ankit
        Jun 12, 2016 @ 12:02:49

        Yes.

        I agree with you on that. Paying experts to do a job can be the shortest and most effective way.

        But as you state, with a limited budget, learning to do it ourselves becomes the way to go.

        Thanks Jon.

  48. Benay
    Jun 11, 2016 @ 02:27:53

    Love your work. I choose money. – B

  49. Katharine
    Jun 11, 2016 @ 07:56:48

    Time.

  50. Joe
    Jun 11, 2016 @ 17:13:40

    Jon

    Great article.

    As I sit here in my underwear contemplating my next steps, including slashing my wrists with one of the empty beer bottles under my desk, I realize one thing.

    Internet marketing is a colossal pain in the ass.

    And most of the advice you read online completely sucks. Including some of yours.

    The truth is, unless you’ve already gathered an audience of semi-literate people around your topic, blogging is largely an unrewarding pursuit these days.

    With video content set to dominate, and facebook’s stranglehold over people’s attention showing no signs of letting up, the good old days of the internet are over.

    My 14 year-old daughter, and 5 million other people just like her, routinely watch youtube videos created by marginally talented, privileged, British brats with names like Zoella, Joe Sugg, and Marcus Butler. Google some of these names. Be warned, don’t watch more than a couple of minutes unless you want to gargle your breakfast.

    What you really need to be telling people is that the only real way to generate traffic is to become a celebrity.

    You’ve done it, albeit in a small way.

    But even you, unless you do something seriously weird, will never generate the volume of traffic one of these aforementioned celebrity vloggers will.

    Spending hours writing great content will only take you so far these days.

    Talent doesn’t matter. Having something interesting to say doesn’t matter.

    Celebrity matters. And nothing more.

    Achieve it, in whatever way you can, or perish.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 11, 2016 @ 18:24:17

      I don’t agree with that. Yes, celebrity is one way of generating traffic, but there are people who are relatively unknown who generate billions of page views. For instance, who is the editor-in-chief of Buzzfeed? You would probably have to look it up (I know I would), but they get more traffic than any YouTube channel.

      Another thing to remember: the quality of traffic really matters.

      You can create a funny video that goes viral on YouTube, but the quality of traffic is terrible. More than likely, the people watching aren’t going to buy anything, nor do they respect your authority.

      On the other hand, the right blog post might get only a few thousand visitors, but if those people are precisely who you want to reach, and you have them hanging on your every word, you can accomplish more than somebody with 100X more traffic.

      • Joe
        Jun 11, 2016 @ 19:48:33

        Definitely agree with the audience quality over quantity mantra. And I do actually like your stuff. A lot!

        But when you’re scratching around to find next week’s rent and your blog has all the engagement of a conversation taking place in your prefrontal cortex, advice – even good advice – can be a bitter pill.

        I was only half joking when I mentioned slashing my wrists with a broken beer bottle. And I’m sure I’m not alone.

        So, I’d like to ask you if I can submit a guest post. It’ll be from the trenches. Not from someone who’s made it, or even half made it. It’ll be from someone struggling to keep a family together, struggling to pay bills, struggling for their sanity.

        And I think a large portion of your audience will get it.

        No guarantees in life right. All I’d like is for a chance to submit something for your consideration.

      • Jon Morrow
        Jun 12, 2016 @ 22:27:05

        We’re not accepting additional guest posts right now, I’m afraid:

        https://smartblogger.com/write-for-us/

        If that changes though, you’re more than welcome to submit one.

  51. Kim
    Jun 11, 2016 @ 17:49:47

    Interesting post – lots to think about!
    Right now, I have more time than money, so I’m trying out the social networks to see which can generate traffic (so far, Facebook is leading over Twitter, with Pinterest and Instagram trailing far behind). I am reading up on SEO and looking into if it’s a viable strategy for me at this time. As for advertising, that’s going to have to wait.
    I liked the point about if one traffic source is better than another. The best traffic are the people who want to hear what you have to say. As you said, where to find those people varies.

  52. DNN
    Jun 12, 2016 @ 05:05:18

    The bottom line is keep creating lots and lots of quality content for your blog and in long form fashion. In due time, bloggers can generate more than enough traffic to live from and prosper. The key to success is keep creating content and most importantly, respond to feedback from blog commenters. This way, you show people you’re real and value their feedback.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 12, 2016 @ 22:23:09

      Did you read the post? It’s a bit more complicated than that.

  53. Shamsudeen Adeshokan
    Jun 12, 2016 @ 12:48:00

    Hi Jon,

    If getting people to our website is as easy as most 99% of information out there had proclaim, 80% of online entrepreneurs would be richer than Bill Gates already.

    From experience, (maybe due to my type of person as you had pointed out) the ideal way to approach getting significant website traffic is to invest more of your money than time.

    Time is too previous, we should learn to make the best of it. The level of traffic you could get from investing your time “might” not be good enough to take you far to the promise land.

    Yes, you get trickle and occasional engage target audience from links you have strategically placed on other people’s blog, but I don’t think that’s something you really want.

    Waiting to start receiving your lessons.

    Thanks for sharing.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 19, 2016 @ 23:23:12

      It all depends on your personality and niche.

      If you have the mindset of a marketer and money to invest, then yes, paying for traffic is often the right strategy. It works in every niche, unlike all of the others.

      But it’s not the only way. I’ve gotten over 200 million visitors of free traffic. Worked out pretty well for me. 🙂

  54. Lisa Sicard
    Jun 13, 2016 @ 06:28:50

    Hi Jon, great post! I love your point that you only get out what you put into it – it’s the time or money factor. Either you spend lots of time writing, networking, etc or spend a lot of money to advertise. One or the other will get you traffic. But you must done at least one of them.
    Every niche and area is different too, so what works for one may not work well for another, excellent points Jon – love it!

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 19, 2016 @ 23:19:53

      Yes! You got it. 🙂

  55. 3D Floor Plan
    Jun 14, 2016 @ 08:24:44

    I think content is very important for traffic, its the only way to keep people coming and also making them to share your posts. Great Post

  56. Sagar Doshi
    Jun 14, 2016 @ 09:11:25

    Since Google has started showing ads on first position, investing so many efforts in SEO doesn’t make any sense I believe. Facebook could be best platform to grab eyeballs and earn through CPC networks (but affiliate product promotion with Facebook is bit hard enough)

    I don’t know how people use pinterst and instagram (as instagram won’t allow you to post URL anywhere) to market themselve.

    This was nice read though 🙂

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 19, 2016 @ 23:19:21

      There’s not really a best strategy. That’s kind of point of the article.

      And I still get loads of traffic from Google. The ads reduced it slightly, but certainly not enough to ignore search engines, if they are part of your overall traffic strategy.

  57. james19
    Jun 17, 2016 @ 10:08:51

    I decided to trade my time for the long term results. I’ve been blogging for so many years, and found out that the best way to get traffic is:

    1: get found
    2. Create quality content
    3: have the right audience
    4. Social media.

  58. Linda Look
    Jun 17, 2016 @ 19:21:32

    Your Royal Awesomeness,
    I actually do think it is pretty awesome how you are sharing information. I don’t know if I will ever know for sure what I’m doing in marketing, but I do know what I am doing in education, so I keep plugging away. Thanks for the help!

  59. Rennie Bottali
    Jun 18, 2016 @ 05:07:02

    seems a great post to increase potential customers on your site.

  60. Ben
    Jun 18, 2016 @ 21:25:53

    Hi Jon. I think you are the first person that I’ve read who says that your traffic strategy depends on you. I’ve been using SEO for years because it was the first thing that I learned about when I started out 9 years ago and I figured out how it worked. At this point it will remain my best choice because of the age of my website. I spend some time with Facebook and Twitter and they get me a little extra traffic, but the majority comes through the search engines, and that’s easier for me.

  61. nathan james
    Jun 19, 2016 @ 12:39:53

    Hi Jon,
    Great post.
    I spent the whole of last year applying seo, only to get dropped overnight. I’m still not 100% what went wrong. After contacting Google a handful of times, they never bothered getting back to me.
    Gutted isnt the word. So much work, time and effort, and money completely wasted.
    I learnt not to chase rankings and just stick to getting targeted traffic from ads.
    Thanks for sharing mate.

    • Jon Morrow
      Jun 19, 2016 @ 23:17:36

      Were you doing anything that could have resulted in getting low-quality links?

  62. Ree
    Jun 20, 2016 @ 00:51:22

    I am loving this site 😀

  63. Cleber
    Jun 20, 2016 @ 20:49:14

    That’s an great post. As said it’s super complicated. =D

    I created a blog to get “free” traffic and now I’m feeling like an idiot. I imagined that would be very easy to get at least 200 daily visitors. haha

    I think is the best way to go for paid traffic and promote my offers direct on it instead of wasting time to get traffic for my blog/email list.

  64. alex
    Jun 20, 2016 @ 23:52:13

    Excellent post!
    Quick question…
    just wondering what traffic source would you recommend for an investment site? I’m thinking guest blogging /links and social media because the site is new?

  65. Iyiola
    Jun 21, 2016 @ 16:45:00

    Hi Jon,
    I’ve been waiting to write for you, but the questions is : how?
    I don’t know where to send my post to??
    Please just give me 5secs of your time to give me the email…. Please…. Reply to this particular post.
    Thanks.

    • Joseph Dabon
      Jun 21, 2016 @ 22:52:11

      You are already in SBO. Fire away your question. If Jon notices it, he might answer you. The problem is that Jon is so tied up with all these queries that he can easily miss your. I suggest you put a very interesting purpose for your wanting to communicate with him. Something that catches his attention, something that he could not say No to.

      • Iyiola
        Jun 22, 2016 @ 04:53:13

        How? I can’t do that here in the public..

    • Heather Sanders
      Jun 22, 2016 @ 10:27:28

      Hey Lyiola, I’m not sure if you saw, but Jon responded to another commenter requesting to write a guest post for him above. He wrote:

      “We’re not accepting additional guest posts right now, I’m afraid:

      https://smartblogger.com/write-for-us/

      If that changes though, you’re more than welcome to submit one.”

      Hope that helps. 🙂

      • Iyiola
        Jun 22, 2016 @ 11:41:02

        Thanks Heather,
        I just need a big ground to guest post for so that I can drive traffic to a blog I want to launch…
        ProBlogger’s guest post style is so confusing… What are you gonna advice me to do? Where else has a big audience to guest post for? 🙂
        Thanks

  66. Joseph Dabon
    Jun 22, 2016 @ 06:06:24

    That’s must be pretty awesome thing you’ve there to want a private audience. Tall wish, my friend.

  67. Akhil Vyshakh
    Jun 23, 2016 @ 15:08:34

    Hi Jon,
    This is absolutely true in reality. People have been fooled with too many traffic hacks by many blogs.

    One thing I learned after one year of blogging is that all these traffic methods won’t work if you don’t have great content.

    Then if you have consistency in that content people will start following you.

    A good example is none other than your blog Jhon 🙂

  68. Deepanshu
    Jun 25, 2016 @ 02:48:32

    I recently started my blog, and I am blessed because I found Jon before starting my blog :D, I let the users share my content on the social media as of now, should I target social media myself ? I am a technology and trends blogger.

  69. Transport George | Onehalf AU
    Jun 26, 2016 @ 05:59:23

    I totally agree with Myth #1. There is no such thing as free traffic. You may get good traffic without spending money but you will still need to invest time and effort to get massive traffic to your website.

  70. Benjamin Carter-Riley
    Jun 26, 2016 @ 06:26:11

    You’re absolutely right Jon,

    Blogging traffic isn’t really ‘free’, you have to put in a lot of work if you want to your blog to get a ton of traffic each month.

    Also, I hear about blogs talking about “SEO is everything” but that can’t be the case since there are many other strategies for getting traffic to your blog (guest posting, blogger outreach, blogger roundup posts etc).

    I myself don’t use every single social media platform for blogging. Twitter is my favourite, but I also use Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. 🙂

    The takeaway from this, is if you want to grow your blog by yourself, you must do the research (and put the work in) in order to get optimal results!

    Thanks for the awesome read Jon,

    Benjamin

  71. Billy Inelus
    Jun 26, 2016 @ 21:45:32

    Traffic is definitely the fuel of any business online. Finding quality traffic that converts is certainly not that easy.

    You said it best Jon: you will have to trade something for it, time or money. Only yourself can make the choice, and once it’s made, you will have to stay consistent at it.

    Great post!

  72. Carl
    Jun 27, 2016 @ 16:20:18

    This is really interesting. Does it mean that there’s no one right strategy? So many people claiming to be experts but with totally different ideas on the right approach. Who can speak authoritatively on website traffic?

    Could we say that the best approach is hard work and patience? I guess it can be confusing. Anyway, thanks for sharing your ideas and experiences.

  73. Lavues
    Jun 29, 2016 @ 12:22:32

    Marvelous, this is really true and a very informative post!

  74. Karen
    Jul 13, 2016 @ 04:05:33

    Thanks! Loved the post!

  75. Sara Williams
    Jul 13, 2016 @ 09:45:18

    Hello Jon,
    This is really nice article.Great post thank you Jon. I love these myth buster articles. They are so powerful at helping to change unhelpful behaviours. Nothing worse than staring the truth in the face.

  76. Suraj
    Jul 14, 2016 @ 05:25:13

    Some people thinks blogging and seo is free but as you mentioned it is not free, we are spending our time and effort which can’t free.

  77. Corey Tat
    Jul 17, 2016 @ 14:43:02

    Hi Jon,

    This was a very detailed article and I love how you busted the myths on getting traffic.

    I’ve made that mistake of dabbling in every social media platform possible. Now that I’ve learned from my mistake, I realized it’s about finding the right social media, and using that platform to deliver your content that will target your audience.

    Any business that we want to succeed in, including blogging, is a process that we must make a commitment to learn. A commitment is dedicating long hours (the price paid) and learning as much as we can in the process.

    Thanks for the insightful article. This saved me lots of trial and error!

  78. uthman saheed
    Jul 19, 2016 @ 12:49:20

    Presently, working on SEO and facebook to generate traffic to my blog. It has not been easy but the traffic is growing gradually. It actually took me years to know the best traffic strategy to implore for the blog.

    Personally, I think experience is more relevant in knowing what works and what does not work for you in traffic generation.

    Thanks big boss.

  79. Keri Vandongen
    Jul 20, 2016 @ 17:01:07

    Love your straight-up advice Jon – it’s refreshingly authentic, even if it’s tough to hear.
    I agree that blogging takes tons of time, especially time to connect with others to co-promote with and build relationships.
    Your caution to consider our situation and blog stage before optimizing for SEO is appreciated! As for your question: Yes, giving up time to create a blog is not easy. But I wouldn’t learn anywhere near as much if I hired out marketing, my appreciation for my readers & potential customers would be limited, and I’d miss out on collaborative relationships that make this journey worthwhile.
    Your time-saving tips and authentic, wise advice is appreciated!
    ~Keri

  80. Ciaran Maguire
    Jul 28, 2016 @ 05:42:35

    Thanks for sharing the updates.

  81. Victor Winners
    Aug 01, 2016 @ 09:24:36

    This made loads of sense as usual Jon. Been following your post allover the place. Was stocked with a bad SEO advice that cost me a lot last year. You’re right by saying ”No traffic strategy is right for everyone all the time”.

    Everyone just have to find out what works for them.
    By the way i love your writing style. I mean your ”voice” lol. Comes out straight up, direct with some slice of humor. Wanna work out something on that. Nice post man.

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